Category Archives: Slavery

Yazidi sex slaves held by ISIS forced to give blood to keep fighters alive

By Larisa Brown For Mailonline

A pregnant teenager who was captured by Islamic State militants has revealed how girls are being forced to give blood transfusions to keep their attackers alive.

Hamshe – who is understood to be the first Yazidi slave to reveal her identity – has told of how sickening Islamist jihadists have been using the blood of captured women and children for wounded fighters in the battlefield.

The 19-year-old, who also has a baby with her husband who is believed to have been murdered by militants, was held captive for 28 days before she escaped.

She said: ‘When each of them took a Yazidi girl, one of them took me to his house and locked me inside a room and told me ‘I will not give you food or water if you refuse to marry me’.’

Sex slave: Hamshe, a Yazidi girl from Iraq, is only 19 yet has suffered enough torment for a lifetime, having been held captive as a sex slave by Isis militants for 28 days with her baby before she escaped

Hamshe's escape from captivity with Isis was dramatic: 'One night my baby was crying from thirst. I knocked at the door and saw all the guards sleeping outside. I took a bottle of water from them and I ran away with my baby and walked for four hours'

Horrific memories: Hamshe told campaigner Nareen Shammo, left, how Isis forced Yazidi girls to donate blood to IS wounded fighters. Hamshe asked: 'Which God allows these acts?'

They forced the Yazidi girls to donate blood to IS wounded fighters. Which God allows these acts?’

Dressed in all black and wearing a headscarf while slumped on a dirty floor in Iraq, she described how she managed to run away from her captors while holding her baby.

‘One night my baby was crying from thirst. I knocked at the door and saw all the guards sleeping outside. I took a bottle of water from them and I ran away with my baby and walked for four hours’, she said.

She said she came across an Arab man who took her into his home and looked after her for three days. She added: ‘Then they drove me to a Peshmerga checkpoint in Barda Rash. I was at the checkpoint for 7 hours. Then my brother came and took me back home.’

Her mother added: ‘I couldn’t imagine that my daughter will come back. We thank God for that. Our family is destroyed. The Yazidi community has been destroyed.

‘This tragedy has done us enough damage for the rest of our lives.’

Speaking of the moment she was captured by IS militants and moved to a different location in Iraq, Hamshe added: ‘I can never forget when they separated men and women from each other. It was very painful to witness women and girls being taken as a war spoils.

‘Each IS fighter was holding the hand of a Yazidi girl and took her for himself. It was harder than facing death.’

Her plight – and that of many others – is revealed in a new documentary, Slaves of the Caliphate, which will screen on BBC Arabic tonight.

Activist Nareen Shammo, left, has been keeping tracks of hundreds of kidnapped women and is helping Hamshe, right, to try to return to 'normal' life after 28 days in captivity as a sex slave

Too young: The BBC documentary about sex slaves being held by Isis in Iraq and Syria shows how girls in refugee camps, like this girl above, are vulnerable to attack 

Refugee families: This little boy lives in a refugee camp where no woman or girl is safe from the attentions of Isis

Activist Nareen Shammo has been keeping tracks of hundreds of kidnapped women and has worked tirelessly to locate them and negotiate their return. She said of the blood transfusions: ‘I work on the Yazidi cases every day.

‘This is the first time I’ve heard such a thing, they even take our girls and old women’s blood. They use it for their wounded IS fighters.’

It is the latest example of the depraved lengths Islamist jihadists are willing to go to in the name of Islam.

The horror of Isis fighters taking Yazidi sex slaves was revealed in an Amnesty International report last December. It found that Islamic State is kidnapping thousands of women and girls as young as 12. They are then traded in open markets as sex slaves for as little as £16 each.

After being abducted from their homes, they are sold as playthings to the highest bidder, usually IS commanders, or gifted to the ‘bravest’ fighters as rewards for their services to jihad.

Ms Shammo, who has come under constant death threats, has been using Facebook to identify young captured slaves and communicates with them on their mobiles, which they hide from the militants.

At one point during the footage, a militant seizes the phone of a girl she is trying to rescue and adds: ‘The truth is they’re in IS hands, they will convert to Islam and live under IS protection.’

Another victim, who was captured by fighters at the age of 21, said she had been told to agree to be a gift for Abu Bakir Al Baghdadi, the head of IS, but she had refused.

She said: ‘I saw everything, I saw girls being raped, I witnessed their torture. I saw babies separated from their mothers. Some children were 5 and 6 years old when they were taken from their families.

‘They killed our fathers, uncles and everyone. There is no horror I haven’t experienced. I lost my senses.

‘There is nothing worse than rape.

‘One of the leaders took a 13-year-old girl to his house, locked the room and told his children she is a Yazidi girl who converted to Islam, that he will teach her how to pray and read the Koran.

‘In fact he was raping her during that time. She told me she was raped there for three days.’

The Islamic State believe that captive Yazidi women are like property, exchanging them in some cases for as much as $10,000 each.

Over 300 women have been released since August 2014 but it is estimated that over 2600 women remain captive.

The Yazidi religious minority community in Iraq says 3,500 of its women and girls are still being held by the so-called Islamic State (IS), many being used as sex slaves.

Escaped slaves have told how they are traded in vile markets where men barter for their bodies.

According to adocument, obtained by websiteIraqinews.com, just £27 will fetch a Yazidi or Christian woman aged between 40 and 50.

Chillingly, a child between one and nine will fetch four times that.

One escaped slave told the BBC: ‘They put us up for sale. Many groups of fighters came to buy. We couldn’t sleep properly because new groups came at all hours,’ she says, almost whispering.

Human tragedy: Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walked towards the Syrian border last August 11, 2014

Living in misery: A woman collects water in a Yazidi refugee camp in Iraq where Isis target vulnerable girls as young as 12 to become sex slaves 

A mother's nightmare: Hamshe's mother told the BBC that 'the Yazidi community has been destroyed. This tragedy has done us enough damage for the rest of our lives.'

‘Sometimes they brought girls back who had been beaten, injured. When they recovered, they were sold again. Eventually, they took all the girls. The women were left behind [and sold last].

‘Whatever we did, crying, begging, it made no difference. An Islamic State sheikh took the money. It wasn’t much. A fighter showed us 15,000 Iraqi dinars [$13; £8] and said: ‘This is your price.”

Last December, a pamphlet revealed how IS has given out orders on the proper use of women as slaves.

The extremist group’s Department of Research and Fatwas (religious edicts) issued a document with the chillingly matter-of-fact title: ‘Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves’.

Posted on a jihadist web forum, and allegedly given out after prayers in Mosul, Iraq, it says Christians, Jews and Yazidi women can all be taken as slaves.

Women can be bought, sold, and given as gifts; they can be disposed of as property if a fighter dies.

The pamphlet’s Q&A format includes the following:

Question: Is it allowed to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession of her? Answer: If she is a virgin, her master can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession. But if she is not, you must make sure she is not pregnant.

Question: Is it allowed to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty? Answer: You may have intercourse with a female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse. However, if she is not fit for intercourse, it is enough to enjoy her without.

Chilling drive: This is the view towards the Dera Bwn refugee camp in Duhok, northern Iraq 

Forced conversions: Islamic State releases a video purportedly of Iraq's minority Yazidis taking part in a conversion ritual at an unknown location

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate August 11, 2014

IS has even recorded the practice in its official publication, Daqib. It states:

‘After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to Sharia [Islamic law] amongst the fighters of Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations…

‘Before Satan sows doubt among the weak-minded and weak-hearted, remember that enslaving the kuffa [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly-established aspect of Sharia.’

A spokesman for Amnesty has said: ‘Despite worldwide condemnation, the IS has shown no intention of putting an end to the war crimes and crimes against humanity which its fighters have been committing on a large scale, including against the Iraqi women and girls they have abducted and continue to hold captive.

‘Any party, in Iraq or outside, with any influence over the IS should use that influence to secure the release of these captives.

‘A small proportion of those abducted have managed to escape IS captivity, many after having been subjected to acts of unspeakable brutality.

‘But the survivors interviewed by Amnesty International are not receiving the help and support they desperately need.’

Yazidis who didn’t escape Mount Sinjar: UN confirms 5,000 men were executed and 7,000 women are now kept as sex slaves

Thousands of Yazidi men in Iraq were murdered in scenes reminiscent of the Bosnian Srebrenica massacre when Islamic State jihadists swept through in August, according to researchers.  

Tens of thousands of Yazidi refugees took up residence at make-shift sites and villages across the Kurdish region of northern Iraq after fleeing across Mount Sinjar in August – but equal numbers remained trapped behind the Isil lines.

Researchers, piecing together reports of attacks, have now concluded that more than 5,000 Yazidi were gunned down in a series of massacres by jihadist.

 

Thousands of Yazidi men in Iraq were murdered in scenes reminiscent of the Bosnian Srebrenica massacre when Islamic State jihadists swept through in August, according to researchers

Thousands of Yazidi men in Iraq were murdered in scenes reminiscent of the Bosnian Srebrenica massacre when Islamic State jihadists swept through in August, according to researchers

Tragic: Most of the Yazidis are now displaced in northern Iraq, many having lost loved ones in their flight to safety. Some say that women and girls were snatched during the militant raid

Tragic: Most of the Yazidis are now displaced in northern Iraq, many having lost loved ones in their flight to safety. Some say that women and girls were snatched during the militant raid

A further  5-7,000 women are also being held in makeshift detention centres, where they either been taken away and sold into slavery or handed over to jihadists as concubines.

Five detention centres in the town of Tal Afar is thought to hold around 3,500 women and children.

Due to the magnitude of the killings and enslavement they occurred largely unreported, but now United Nationals researchers have verified many of the tales of horror.

Bakat Khalaf, 60, said 14 of his family were missing or kidnapped, including his son.

Khartun Yusef said her daughter and four granddaughters were being detained in Tal Afar. Her son managed to get away with her to Mount Sinjar, but he was shot and killed when they tried to return home for supplies.

Her other son, who is 18, had been captured by jihadists.

The UN researchers have been collecting accounts of the Isil incursions.

It says that 250-300 men were killed in Mr Khalaf’s village, Hardan, including ten that were beheaded. Another 400 were gunned down in the village of Khocho; Isil shelling killed another 200 civilians in the village of Adnaniya and 70-90 men were shot in a ditch in the village of Quinyeh.

On another road, out of al-Shimal village, near to Sinjar town, witnesses reported seeing dozens of bodies.

Researchers said hundreds more men had been killed for refusing to convert to Islam.

Shelter: Iraqi Yazidis who fled the city of Sinjar and nearby towns take shelter at a school in Dahuk, north Iraq

Shelter: Iraqi Yazidis who fled the city of Sinjar and nearby towns take shelter at a school in Dahuk, north Iraq

Some of the killing were brutally simplistic, with people being lined up at checkpoints, shot dead, then bulldozed into mass graves. Others were herded into temples which were late blown up.

Matthew Barber, a scholar of Yazidi history at the University of Chicago who was in Kurdistan as the assaults happened, said it was thought 3-5,000 men had been killed.

Some 4,800 women and children were thought to be held captive, and that number was expected to rise above 7,000.

Mr Barber told The Telegraph: ‘In every place where Yazidi women or families are held, jihadists come and randomly select women that they take away.’

The jihadists claim justification through accounts of seizures of women in the early days of Muslim expansion in the 7th Century.

An open letter to Isil by Islamic scholars last month took Isil to task over the Yazidis, insisting that: “The reintroduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus.”

Meanwhile, a magazine purportedly published by the terror group, Dabiq, released on Sunday attempts to justify the militants’ snaring of thousands of innocent Yazidis during an assault on the Iraqi city of Sinjar in August.

Explaining why Yazidis have been sold into sex slavery while those from other groups have not, the magazine claims Islamic Sharia law allows the enslavement of innocent ‘polytheists and pagans’ but not of those the militants regard as simply heretical.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee for their lives – many of them into the nearby Sinjar mountains and then into Kurdish-held regions of northern Iraq.

However many were captured by the militants, resulting in the massacre of hundreds of men and the selling into slavery of women and children, after they were first divided up between ISIS fighters.  

ISIS’ claim to have enslaved and sold Yazidi women and children came as Human Rights Watch said hundreds of Yazidis from Iraq continue to be held captive in makeshift detention facilities.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled into the Sinjar Mountains after the militant onslaught on Sinjar, part of ISIS’ lightning advance into north and western Iraq.

Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry said at the time that hundreds of women were abducted by the militants, who consider the Yazidis, a centuries-old religious minority, a heretical sect.

The issue of Dabiq magazine released on Sunday stated that ‘the enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers.’

It added that ‘the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations.’

Attempting to justify the move, the magazine said Sharia law differentiates between female Muslims from ‘heretical’ sects, and those from groups such as the Yazidids, who are considered pagans.

Haven: Aisha Ali Dirbou, a 70-year-old Yazidi who fled from the city of Mosul, is pictured at a school in Dahuk

Grim: Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled into the Sinjar Mountains after the militant onslaught on Sinjar, part of ISIS’ lightning advance into north and western Iraq

 ‘This large-scale enslavement of mushrik families is probably the first since the abandonment of this Sharia law,’ the article says, referring to the enslavement of Yazidis.

 ‘The only other known case – albeit much smaller – is that of the enslavement of Christian women and children in the Philippines and Nigeria by the mujahedeen there.’

Most of the Yazidis are now displaced in northern Iraq, many having lost loved ones in their flight to safety. Some say that women and girls were snatched during the militant raid.

In one section of the magazine, a statement attributed to Mohammed al-Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State group, read: ‘We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,’ addressing those who do not subscribe to its hardline interpretation of Islam.

Hope: A Yazidi woman and her child are seen taking shelter at a school in Dahuk, northern Iraq

Shelter: Yazidi men who fled the city of Sinjar take shelter at a school in Dahuk, northern Iraq

The magazine’s release came as New York-based Human Rights Watch said the group ‘separated young women and teenage girls from their families and has forced some of them to marry its fighters.’

One woman told Human Rights Watch that she saw Islamic State fighters buying girls, and a teenage girl said a fighter bought her for $1,000, the report said.

The Associated Press independently has interviewed a number of Yazidi women and girls who escaped captivity and several claimed that they were sold to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

The Burka:Trapped in a Mobile Prison

Julie Lenarz

I wore a burka only once and would not wish it on my worst enemy. I borrowed it from an Afghan friend whose mother fled from the wrath of the Taliban when she was forced to ditch her Western-style school uniform for a black prison garment which covered her from head to toe and erected a wall of withdrawal between her and the rest of society. From one day to the next, she was deemed a second class citizen by reactionary, fanatical zealots.

A burka obstructs the most basic interactions and natural senses: you cannot breathe, smile, see, walk, sit, eat or speak normally. It is the worst expression of gender apartheid and misogyny; the ultimate cultural medium of oppression and submission; an artefact of slavery and instrument of dehumanisation, a gross violation of inalienable human rights. And not only is it a crime against womanhood but a crass offence to both sexes. It implies that just the sight of a woman’s face will turn men into wild beasts who cannot exercise any self-control.

The most common arguments made in favour of the burka or against a burka ban are based on the principles of “freedom of religion” and “freedom of expression”, which by all means should be carefully protected and respected. Yet, in that particular context, their application is deeply flawed.

For a start, the burka is not a religious phenomenon per se but a cultural expression. The religion of Islam existed long before the burka to which no reference is made in the Quran. In many Muslim countries, such as Turkey, Tunisia, Syria or Morocco, it is banned in public places altogether or is heavily restricted. Only in the most conservative societies, like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan, is the burka regarded as an integral part of the culture. Consequently, by defending the right to wear the burka under the premise of “freedom of religion” one does not defend the religion of Islam but a particularly extreme interpretation of it which is antithetical to our way of life.

Others evoke the “right of expression” and frame the debate as a matter of free choice and as a symbol for our tolerance towards other religions and cultures. That, however, is a logical fallacy. To tolerate a custom which is inherently intolerant does not make us tolerant. It makes us apologists of brutal oppression, rather than guardians of individual freedoms. Or take the argument of “right of expression” to the exact opposite extreme: what about the right of nudists to be naked? I, for one, consider the burka much more of an unnatural obscenity than nudity. Nonetheless, I would never tolerate it in public. The burka is not merely a piece of clothing. It is a manifestation of political Islam and Islamism which, again, are in many ways contradictory to our system of values.

Do not get me wrong: I do not support a ban of the burka in public places for the same reason illiberal societies like Syria do, although it is a good example to illustrate why the burka has very little to do with the mainstream interpretation of Islam. I advocate it for reasons similar to the French, based on a mixture of human rights and security concerns, which, I believe, must override individual freedom of expression in the public sphere.

Of course, a legitimate question to ask is: what about the rights of those women who wish to wear a burka? To deny their existence would be intellectually dishonest. Some burka-wearing women are indeed not forced into submission by their families or husbands. It is, however, important not to miss the complexity of the problem, and consider the immense social and communal pressure many Muslims are under even when they come from relatively liberal backgrounds. The right not to wear the burka is of little comfort when your Wahhabi imam wishes Allah’s wrath upon you, or when the Salafist boys from next door call you an “indecent whore” who “invites rape”.

In fact, I can only think of three valid arguments against the burka ban: firstly, the problem of enforcement which would entail questions such as who would enforce the ban and what would be the consequences of non-compliance. Secondly, the real risk of backlash as we have seen in France where entire Muslim communities were stigmatised and alienated. And finally, the concern of abuse; whilst I would support it in public places such as banks, airports, courtrooms, universities, schools and workplaces, I could not sanction in good faith the infringement of an individual’s personal freedoms in the private sphere.

But the bottom line remains the same: the burka is an affront to humanity and has no place in freedom-loving societies. Of course, it is possible to be anti-burka and anti-burka ban. But if we oppose the burka ban, we must oppose it for the right reasons. There is little more disheartening and demoralising than to see brave, progressive Muslim women speaking out against a culture of oppression, whilst privileged Western men defend it or hide behind dubious double standards, naively fooling themselves into thinking they protect something noble.